Regular exercise is essential for all people and animals to stay fit and active, dogs are certainly no exception to this rule. All dogs need daily exercise to remain active. All the exercise a dog does needs to be in addition to his normal day-to-day activities. An active dog is a healthy dog! There is nothing a dog loves more than to be out and about in the great outdoors. If you have limited location options, then try your local park as long as restrictions say this is allowed. Always check first that you are allowed to exercise freely with your dog in your local open space.
How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need?
Dogs exercise needs per day vary from breed to breed. But when it comes to every day dog walking, here are some guidelines:
Small dogs: 1-3 miles per day
Medium dogs: 3-5 miles per day
Large dogs: 5-8 miles per day
Obviously if your dog has any specific joint or other problems then you should consult your local veterinarian for tailored advice. The next best person that knows your dog best is you and can judge effectively whether your dog will be able to complete an activity.
What Type of Exercise Is the Best for My Dog?
All exercise is healthy for your dog, just as long as it is suitable for their size, breed and age. Be sure, however, not to push them beyond their physical capabilites. To determine which exercise is best for your dog, take into consideration her age, breed, and health.
If your canine companion is a puppy or a senior citizen, then you will probably want to stick to low-impact activities. To keep your dog in good shape, you will need to provide her with a daily dose of physical and mental stimulation. If your dog is still a puppy, you’ll want to start her off with some basic obedience training.
Once you have the basics down, you can move on to more advanced training. When starting a training program, it’s important to use small, positive rewards. As research shows, most dogs respond better to praise than to treats. If you use treats, make sure you use tiny treats that are soft and easy to chew. In addition to training, you should also work on developing your dog’s physical stamina. If you are physically active yourself, then you will probably want to get your dog started on a fitness regime.
What Types of Fun Exercises Can Dogs Do?
There are an infinate number of ways for dog to build strenght and their fitness levels, but here are some of our favorites.
Swimming is probably one of the best all-around exercises you can give your dog. A 10-minute swim is equivalent to an hour of walking. It is smooth, efficient and relaxing. In addition to exercise, swimming is a great way to cool off in the summer months.
Many dogs can be afraid of the water and will panic when they are first put in the pool. This is usually a result of them panicking as they can not get their footing on the slippery bottom. You can help your dog overcome this fear by slowly introducing them to the water by showering them with a hose, and then putting them in a pool with no water in it. Gradually, put in more water without your dog panicking and he will soon learn to love the water.
Swimming is perfect for all breeds of dogs, but it is especially beneficial for dogs with joint problems because it is a low impact exercise. If you want to prepare your dog to swim, you should start them off at a young age and give them plenty of positive encouragement.
There are many fun dog toys and games you can purchase that encourage swimming. Dogs love to chase and fetch, so if you toss a toy in the pool for your dog, they will soon be swimming after it. Another great game is to have your dog “find” a toy that you throw in the pool. For example, if you have a squeaky toy, throw it in the water and encourage your dog to get it. If your dog is not a strong swimmer, you can purchase a life vest for them. This will help to keep them from sinking and keep their head above water.
Cycling is another great way to exercise your dog. A dog will love to run alongside you as you cycle and it’s a great exercise for him too. Be sure to keep the bike and dog off the main roads and out of the way of traffic in your area. Be sure that your dog is adequately trained to keep a minimum distance from the wheels. You also need to make sure that they will respond to your commands promptly as you will be travelling at quite some speed in your are cycling.
Running is great exercise for your dog. Not only does it help keep your dog fit and healthy, it also gives them a chance to be active and stretch their muscles.
If you want to run with your dog, you need to understand that it is not the same as running with a human. The first thing you need to do is to get your dog a harness. It is important that you do not use a collar when you are running with your dog. A collar can easily get snagged on something and choke your dog.
You also need to get a leash that is long enough to let your dog have some freedom to run and play. You do not want to tie the leash to your waist. Instead, you need to tie it to the waist of a friend or family member that can run alongside you.
Dog Agility Exercise Program
This is hugely popular and is a great way to exercise your dog and also develop his mental skills. This sport is aimed at creating an activity that is great fun for both you and your dog. You will learn to control your dog and build up his confidence, while at the same time improving his self-esteem.
A good dog agility class will have a number of obstacles for you and your dog to practice over, which will include jumps, tunnels, weave poles, teeter-totters and seesaws. There are dog shows and competitions that you can enter if you and your dog are really good. One of the most popular home exercises for dogs is to teach them to do agility training. If you have a high energy dog, do not forget to do these exercises at home too to gain extra practice.
There are many fun games you can play with your dog, in a relaxed atmosphere, that will help you build your relationship with him. They are important because they are fun, but also because they build positive associations and teach your dog what you want. You want your dog to see you as a source of fun, food, toys, games and affection.
We have a whole site dedicated to dog games, but here are a few of my favorites. Choose the ones your dog enjoys most, remembering that you will need to change them up every now and then.
One of the best games you can play with your dog is fetch. Get some of his favorite toy and a ball. Throw the ball so that he runs and gets it. As soon as he brings it back to you, throw it again. You want this to be a game, not an exercise session. If you have to encourage him to bring it back to you, or he is just trotting and dropping it at your feet, slow down. Eventually you can teach him to bring the ball all the way back to you and sit. Praise him, give him a treat, but then throw the ball again. Keep it fun. If he is not retrieving the ball, try a different toy.
Tug of War
This is a great game for improving a dogs core strength and can also play a part in muscle building. For bigger dogs you can play tug of war often to develop shoulder muscle and strength. Rottweilers in particular find this exercise helpful for gaining muscle tone – not to mention this breed thrives on this sort of activity! Can be played indoors or outside.
Hiking with your dog is good exercise but you should not push your pet beyond its normal limits. That applies to all exercise, but it is more important when you are hiking! You will be in the great outdoors and must adhere to certain safety procedures, this is especially true in national parks and conservation areas.
- Keep your dog leashed. You could lose your dog or worse!
- Always pack extra water for your dog, and importantly, don’t forget a bowl for him to drink from. You can pick these up for a low cost these days. They are available in concertina format.
- Always pack dog treats and snacks for your dog
Most importantly, have fun with your outdoor activities and enjoy each other! Parks these days are full of people playing with their dogs. Our pets our increasingly taking the place of children, but always check that dogs are allowed in the area you are planning on exercising in.
Dog Leash Training
Dog leash training is another popular activity and you will find plenty of classes available in your local area. This is a great way to help you with your dog’s recall and you will also be able to have a lot of fun. There are different types of training that you can do with your dog, starting with a simple one that can be practiced in the garden. A dog leash class will help you to teach your dog to walk with you, without pulling and being led. Some dogs will need to be trained to walk alongside you and not in front of you, as they will have a tendency to walk in front of you.
How to exercise a dog in the house
The team have written extensively on many dog exercises you can do in the house. There are some very effective exercises you can do at home. These exercises will not only be a good way to bond with your dog but will help burn off some of his energy.
One of the best home dog exercises is jumping. This will help strengthen his legs and should be included in your dog’s exercise routine. If you have a large yard, a good game for your dog to play is fetch. Some dogs develop the bad habit of bringing the ball or stick back to you but never giving it to you. If so, you can teach your dog to bring it all the way back to you.
How to Exercise a Dog if I Am Away From Home ?
You are obligated to walk and exercise your pet dog, especially if you want to keep him in shape and fit. Be sure you do not opt to bring a dog into your life if you cannot exercise him regularly. You have several options you can do to exercise your dog when you are away from home. One of the most popular options is to hire a dog walker. You can contact members of a dog walking services to walk your dog during the day. Another option is a dog boarder. This means your dog will be kept in a boarding facility, often for up to several days at a time. The best option, however, is to make sure that you can take adequate care of your dog by yourself.
Don’t Forget the Humble Daily Walk
Walking is one of the best exercises for your dog as it is suitable for all ages and breeds. From the tiny Yorkshire Terrier, to the favored Labrador, all types of dogs can enjoy walking and it should be an important part of your daily routine.
Dogs love to run, and if they don’t get that exercise and attention from you, they will make their own exercise. If you are not training your dog to be a performance dog or a hunting dog, then walking is the perfect way to get them the exercise they need and to be happy.
There is nothing like fresh air and the outdoors for your dog. It can be exhausting for your dog, but they will love every minute of it! There is so much to mental stimulate a dog outside, from sights and smells to the company and social nuances of other dogs.
Does the Age of My Dog Make a Difference?
Walking is great exercise for a senior dog. This is an excellent way to ensure that older dogs are getting enough exercise. If they are not used to walking regularly, you should start out with short walks, and then gradually increase the distance. As they age, our dogs become less active and this can lead to weight gain and other health issues. A daily walk is a great way to combat this.
Dogs and exercise go together like sand and sea! So make sure that your dog is getting his daily exercise needs, even if you don’t always feel like it. Your dog will force you to become more active too – which is important for your own fitness levels too! Be sure to remain vigilant as having your dog of the leash may be sometimes dangerous due to the presence of other dogs and traffic. If you are satisfied that all is well, then go ahead and have fun together!
Emma Charles, DVM, was born and raised in Brownwood, TX. She leads the editorial team at FunDogFitness.com where she shares some of the vast amount of personal and professional expertise she has gained over the years on the subject of dog care. A proud graduate with a doctorate from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University, she now shares her advice online for anyone who owns, or is considering, a dog.